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Full text of "Verdict On India"

CEAPTEE IT
HUNGER
AXD now it is time to study the manner in which the British are
tackling those problems. Anything like a general survey being
beyond the scope of this book, it will be best if we concentrate on,
one event which has lately gamed widespread attention through-
out the world—the recent famine in Bengal.
We choose to discuss this for several reasons* First and foremost
because it was so shocking and heart-rending a business that the
world's conscience should be constantly reminded of it. Every
calendar of every British and Indian politician ought to be marked
with a little memo, towards the beginning of each summer, to
remind him of the horror of 1943 and the need to guard against
its repetition.
But there is another reason why it is important to re-enact the*
tragedy.   By large sections of opinion, at home and abroad, it
was regarded as a blot on the British record.  The warm-hearted,
muddle-headed British public, who invariably take an almost
masochistic delight in putting themselves in the wrong, before
they have made even the most cursory attempt to examine the
evidence, excelled themselves on this occasion ,by the positive
relish with which they shouted inea culpa. People who could not
even find Bengal on the map—let alone give an adequate des-
cription of the method of its government—echoed every scanda-
lous accusation of the Congress propagandists and automatically
assumed that any statement made by British officers on the spot
must be a lie. Indian students at British universities, who must of
necessity have been in total ignorance of the facts, were elevated
into oracles, while British public servants, with twenty years'
experience, were condemned almost unheard.   It was an out-
standing example of a national trait which is usually called 'fair-
mindedness,' though on occasions like this there would be som*-
excuse for describing it as pathological                                    '*•
However, it is not primarily to plead the cause of any group of